What they said: John Cook

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November 03, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Charles Schwab Cup Championship transcript archive

THE MODERATOR: John, thanks for joining us. You come in as a two-time winner of this event, 2009 and 2010, and a three-time winner this year. Maybe just get us started. Talk about your year. You've won over $1.7 million, and maybe just take us through how things went for you.

JOHN COOK: I guess to categorize the year, it's been a lot of really good. A lot of really good. A lot of could have beens, but I've very proud of the three events that I did win. Had two other chances to win and won there in New York.

So those were disappointing to get beat in playoffs, but you give yourself chances. That's all you can do on this tour. There are a lot of good players, and the competition is getting better and better every year. So the three events that I did win, I played well.

Then I had a couple weeks that are just really puzzling for me. Maybe just because I'm 54. I don't know. But for the most part, the rest of the year was pretty good. They were either all Top 10s or top 20s, with the exception of a couple.

So my consistency was getting better, and I felt like when I played well, I took advantage of those opportunities, which I had not been doing. So to win three times is pretty pleasing. We have one more to go, and we all know where we stand. So there is no real mysteries on what's going on this week, so just have to bring your best game and feel like you're ready to play and finish it out.

THE MODERATOR: Questions. Please use the microphone.

Q. (No microphone.)

JOHN COOK: That was not pleasant, no. I played great obviously. Fred played great obviously, and to have him win a major for us is good. There is nothing wrong with that.

I've been so close in these majors and lost now in three playoffs, so to lose that one was -- that just didn't sit very well for a long time, and still doesn't.

But, you know, I didn't play very well the next week, and I just kind of was just really mad at myself for not winning that one. It spilled over into Seattle, and it looked like it. I was not very good there.

But then I came back and played all right. I played well at Korea and had a chance to win there. I actually had a putt to win there that lipped out.

Then after that, I was good. You know, I played pretty well at Houston except for kind of a poor back side on Saturday. I played good in San Antonio, but nobody was going to beat Fred that week.

So it lasted a couple weeks for sure.

Q. Are you channelling Venturi this week the way you did last year??

JOHN COOK: I certainly would like to, yeah. Definitely. It's a great vibe I have here, obviously. We don't know until the end of the week what's going to happen, but I do feel good about things, what's going on. My practice the last couple weeks has been really good. I'm excited for this week.

The golf course is fantastic. Hopefully the weatherman is wrong. That would be nice. But you know what you get around here. The vibe with Kenny and the time that he's spent around this area growing up and playing here, you know, it's there. It was last year. It doesn't go away.

Q. (No microphone.)

JOHN COOK: We know -- we kind of know when to communicate with each other. We have a relationship that goes so far back that we don't have to talk every day. You don't have to talk every week. You don't even have to talk every month. When we do, it means so much.

So I pretty much just know. I'll talk to him for certain this week at some point. Just pick his brain a little bit on a couple other issues that have come up.

But we've got to get this job done first. I know what I need to do. I need to be at my best this week. Just try to capture this one again.

Q. That being said and with your relationship with Ken and all, is there a distraction factor at all in the Bay Area with the city and all of this? It's not Sin City necessarily, but there are some trappings that could happen around here. Is this tournament just that big that's it's pretty much focus?

JOHN COOK: Yeah, this is what we do. I've been a rest professional golfer for 34 years now, and you learn to live through those things. I've got a job to do this week. It's one more week. That's it. After that, I can cruise. It's okay. I've got two and a half months to cruise and do whatever we need to do.

So I don't get caught in things like that. I love the city. Staying downtown. Great places to eat. You can walk to 'em. There are certain towns that we like. I'm a southern Cal kid obviously, but I enjoy New York City. I enjoy San Francisco. I enjoy London. Those are great places if you let yourself enjoy them.

But the next four days is pretty much business for me, and then we can go and have a heck of a lot fun. But I love coming up here. Always loved coming up to northern Cal from playing Pebble Beach all the way from when I was a kid and to now coming up here also.

Q. I'm sure you know all the Schwab Cup scenarios and all that...

JOHN COOK: Actually, I really don't. I've heard a couple things. All I know is I have to win to have a chance to win. So the rest of it doesn't really matter to me.

Q. I mean you sort of like that additional pressure, that you need to win and only win??

JOHN COOK: Yeah, sure. Yeah. You got know where you stand. I'm just not a believer in people not wanting to know where they stand or what they need to -- you have to know that, otherwise how do you know?

I need to win the golf tournament, so I'm going to play like I need to win the golf tournament. After that, everything else is out of my hands. But even during the week or even on Sunday, I mean, I would like to know where I stand. Because if you don't, you don't know what you need to do.

There are a lot of times -- you do things differently when you know you can do things differently. If you don't know, you don't know what the heck you need to do. So, yeah, I'm aware that I need to win.

Q. This year has been unusual. In previous years, all of your wins came in October and November. Did you surprise yourself getting three in the bag early??

JOHN COOK: Maybe a little bit, yeah. I seemed to have -- as college football season starts is usually when I kick in myself. I've had a nice -- you know, I have had a decent fall. Not great, but decent.

But those three wins early also showed me that to win outside of Texas and California, you know, to win in Florida, I had never won in Florida. To win up in Canada again. Won up there a couple times. To win in Hawaii again.

You know, obviously the majors, you look at your major record when you're done with your career. After that, you look at where you've won your golf tournaments. They're not all in one place. I've won in the Northeast, South, Midwest, West, Hawaii, Northwest, so I feel pretty proud of that.

Q. Patrick Cantalay has talked about how much he learned hanging out with you. I was wondering, is it possible for you to learn something from a 19 year old or just from being around him??

JOHN COOK: Patrick is a pretty special kid, obviously. Known him since he was about 12 or 13. Just a little guy hanging out over there on the side of te putting green watching some of us just practice.

Having Jamie say, You see that little kid over there? He's going to be pretty good one day. I says, Yeah, I've seen him swing. He says, He's a good little young player. That's been fun.

I credit it back to when my son was about the same age. He kind of got me fired back up to play going out and playing with him and his friends and seeing how good these kids can be.

Practicing and working with Patrick kind of keeps that flow going. He's not a 19-year-old kid that thinks he knows it all. Give him credit for that. I think that comes from his support group, his family, and the people around him.

He loves to ask questions, and he doesn't ask why. He's 19. You know, how can you know why? You don't know anything. We will tell you because it's right, and he believes that.

So he loves to ask questions, pick your brain a little bit on stuff, situational things, places you've played, experiences that you've had, what you can do about 'em.

He's eager to learn. That's why I think that he'll have longevity in the game. He likes to learn. He seeks out people to play with that know more than he does. You see him improving in a lot of different ways. From you know from the 13, 14 year old that we saw to the solid young junior at 16 and 17 to the fun little 18-year-old kid that had a very nice U.S. Amateur to the No. 1 player in the world all of a sudden.

You go, Wow, but you could see it coming as he grew, as his game became more mature and he became more mature, it does spill over into what you're doing -- what I'm doing as a pro.

Because we do lit a lot of golf balls together and play a lot of holes. To see that young attitude is fun. He just had a ball this year. Some kids can go into it and think that they got the world beat and all, but he doesn't think that way.

He just had a ball and had so much fun. Watching him laugh on a golf course, you don't get to see that very often these days. So he's great breath of fresh air for the younger generation of golfer. I think he'll have longevity and continue to improve - as long as he listens.

Q. Freddy was saying at Westchester that the reason why he took Michael Jordan for the Presidents Cup here two years ago was he knew that Tiger would want to show off in front of Michael. Now you're in that role. How much of that do you think has to do with your relationship with Woods? If so, what's the dynamic going to be like between you two versus what it was with Jordan?

JOHN COOK: Interesting, Tim. You have to ask Fred what motivated him to ask me to step in. I'm honored, really am honored about this. I'm not taking it lightly. I think that I can help. I've never been in this role before, but I'm anxious to meet and to learn more about the young kids and how they play golf.

Whether we can help them or not, I don't know, but certainly my relationship with Tiger is probably an issue that helped Fred make a decision, that we were very close.

I believe in what he's doing. I believe in Tiger Woods. I'm an old friend of his. If I can make him feel comfortable at anything, that's what I'll do. That's my role. Maybe we'll play a little bit on Monday or Tuesday. Maybe I'll be assigned to him. I don't know what my role is going to be.

But I know he likes to show off in front of me, too, and I've seen it. I've seen some of the best stuff I've ever seen in my life. I've seen "the" best stuff I've ever seen in my life. I always tell him, Why don't you just go out and do that? (Laughing.)

So maybe he'll do that. Maybe he will take it and relax a little bit knowing he's got a compadre there that really does care about him genuinely, as a friend, as somebody that really cares about what he's doing and believes in what he's doing.

Not many people do right now, so it might be nice to have somebody there that really does. Not to question him, but to help. He's another one of those. Going back to Patrick, early on, between Mark and I, he asked a lot of questions. He want to keep learning. You know, he was the No. 1 player in the world by a mile and he was still asking questions.

So maybe he'll get back into something like that.

Q. So when you called him to tell him about the whole deal, what can share from that conversation??

JOHN COOK: He's in Singapore. He's on his little Asian thing right now. He just texted me and said, Congrats. Really excited to you aboard. I said, I'll do whatever you want me to do. Get you water, get your energy bars, you know, whatever. That's going to be my job.

So he was genuinely happy, he really was. I'm honored. I really am.

Q. Why do you continue to believe in Tiger when others their doubts about whether he can come back??

JOHN COOK: It's just the way I am. He's a friend of mine. I'm part of a group of friends that don't care about a lot of other stuff. We just care about him and his family and everything else genuinely. I think that we've remain consistent. Mark and I have remained consistent on that.

I just do. You know, you hear things and you listen to TV and you read stuff and just, How can you count this guy out? There is more than one way to swing a golf club. You don't like the way he's swinging it, so what?

Obviously he believes in it because he wouldn't be bringing it out somewhere else. You know, he believes in what he's doing. That's good enough for me. That's good enough for me.

So there is so much great history, and he still has history to write. That's what motivates him, obviously, otherwise why would he be doing it? He doesn't need to do it.

So he's still motivated, and that shows me, just the motivation factor. That he still wants to do it is good enough for me. I think that's why we believe in that. He's been analyzed, overanalyze, reanalyzed, analyzed again, every swing, thought, every thought, every step. Everything has just been chronicled for almost 20 years. None of that is really concerning to me.

Q. Have you ever had a conversation with Tiger about why he changed, why he's going through another swing change??

JOHN COOK: Yeah, I've had three major conversation with him. Gone from Butch one to Butch two and then Butch to Hank and Hank to Sean.

Yeah, yeah. I just want to know what they're working on, so while we're together I can either help, or if he's asking me something I know what they're trying to do.

I listened to Tiger and Hank for six years. I never quite got it, to be quite honest. Nothing against Hank. Love the man. I've known him for 20 years. I just didn't quite get what they were trying to do.

Tiger won a lot of golf tournaments using that, but I don't think it was -- I think he won because he was Tiger Woods, not because of Hank Haney.

I think this is going to work as well. I think what he's doing right now and what I've seen and what I've talked to Tiger and Sean about, is it's less work on his body. His body will handle the swing much better. Not a violent movement. More efficient use of his body.

He's got the best body you can have for golf. Why not use it? Why use something that is going to break it down. This way he's swinging way more efficiently. When he gets it, he'll get it.

Yeah, I've had three big conversations with him. Just wanted to know what they were doing.

Q. Another question about Patrick. Are you able to draw on your experiences that you had at Ohio State and maybe the pressure that you faced to leave school early and what he might be going through, or has the landscape changed so much that it's the same scenarios??

JOHN COOK: Patrick and I have talked a lot, and not just about golf. I was Patrick Cantalay back in the late '70s when I was, you know, whatever, ranked No. 1 amateur in college and this and that.

I was that guy. You know, the only difference is I did win the U.S. Amateur and he did not. Other than that, it was very parallel. You know, playing in professional events and playing well. I did the same thing.

The pressures to turn pro back then weren't nearly as great because there wasn't a lot of money. It wasn't a money thing. It was more for me of have I accomplished everything I wanted to do in college and amateur golf? And I had.

The only thing was that individual NCAA title I did not win. I came close, but the team won. That, for me, is plenty good enough.

So, you know, I can talk to Patrick on that level because I do know what the pressures are. And then have to a great year and then have to back it up playing against the same competition, and it's easy to kind of rest on your laurels, which didn't do. I had a better year the next year.

I think that's a motivating factor for Patrick. He wants have to a better year this year and to go forward. Whatever he does, that's their decision. He and his family and the core group, we'll all put in our 10 cents, but ultimately it will be Patrick's decision when and if he wants to turn pro.

There was a group of people that thought I never should turn pro. I didn't need to. Wasn't that much money in the game back then. That's what I did. I played golf. I could have gone to work and done just fine, but I was a golfer.

So that's what Patrick is going to try to figure out, you know, if he's accomplished everything he's wanted to accomplish at this level, and he's improved at every level, so it will be a decision to come.

Q. Back to Patrick, talked about him when you flew in from Korea at the press conference, I think. Do you and Jamie Mulligan have any conversation about what Patrick is working on or should be??

JOHN COOK: Jamie is his coach. Jamie helps me a lot, as he helps Mallinger and Paul Goydos, you know, a nice little stable. I don't know. Jamie has got his method and his system. They talk about the golf swing. I talk about more about application of said golf swing into golf shots, when to play 'em, how to play 'em, you know, when to put the hammer down, when to back off, why you do it, what situation.

So that's more where I come in. Experience, golf experience, not swing experience.

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